Grand jury indicts Paterson housing and zoning inspector, accomplice in bribery case | Paterson Times

Grand jury indicts Paterson housing and zoning inspector, accomplice in bribery case


A Paterson housing and zoning inspector, along with an accomplice, has been indicted by a state grand jury for allegedly engaging in a conspiracy to exchange money for fraudulent building permits that bore forged signatures, purportedly from the City of Paterson.

Jose Fermin, 50, of Prospect Park, New Jersey, and Jose Juan Guererro-Cruz, 44, of Cape Coral, Florida, were charged in a seven-count indictment on February 20, 2024. The indictment comes after an investigation revealed that, for at least two years, they allegedly produced and sold bogus Paterson building permits and other documents in exchange for payments.

Guererro-Cruz was arrested on February 27 in Fort Myers, Florida, by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, as part of the ongoing investigation into the permit forgery scheme.

The charges stem from an operation that investigators say took place between December 2020 and February 2022, where Fermin and Guererro-Cruz allegedly accepted money for producing documents with forged signatures of Paterson’s planning and zoning director. The scheme reportedly allowed applicants to obtain permits without submitting the necessary building plans, in clear violation of city policies.

Authorities said Fermin’s actions violated Paterson Personnel Policies and Procedures, which prohibit employees from accepting gifts or favors from individuals involved in transactions with the city.

“We will aggressively prosecute public officials who offer favors in exchange for bribes,” said New Jersey attorney general Matthew Platkin. “Corruption makes the public lose faith that government runs in an upstanding, fair manner and in accordance with the rule of law — and it will not be tolerated by any public servant at any level.”

The charges against Fermin and Guererro-Cruz include conspiracy, official misconduct, bribery in official or political matters, acceptance of an unlawful benefit by a public servant for official behavior, tampering with public records or information, falsifying or tampering with records, and forgery.

“We allege these defendants abused a position of authority, power, and public trust to enrich themselves personally, all while misleading their victims,” said Thomas Eicher, executive director of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA). “They were allegedly undermining the city’s regulatory oversight by offering a workaround that was fictional, and was perpetuated through the use of phony permits.”

  • John

    Deport them.